In addition to facilitating and assessing the development of subject specific Knowledge, Understanding and Skills residing within an Academic Core (see previous article), a school community should recognises the need to not only facilitate the means to develop learner attributes but to also assess the presence of these learner attributes.
It is important that all members of a school community play a role with:
- teachers providing opportunities for students to develop identified attributes through the directed and self-directed curriculum; and
- with students seeking to exhibit such attributes in their daily practices of learning and monitoring their own progress within each attribute.
It is my belief after reviewing a wealth of research relating to attribute and character development and relating to the field of lifelong learning that 7 attributes of the lifelong life wide learner can be determined as Collaboration, Leadership, Resilience, Community, Excellence, Positivity & Creativity.
Recognising and Rewarding Attributes
Many schools reward subject specific skills and subject specific performance. By redirecting award to attributes this shifts the focus to attribute development and can enhance a Connected Curriculum approach.essentially it refocuses the learner, through the extrinsic motivator of reward, on what really matters, not subject specific compliance but vital attributes which will empower them as learners lifelong lifewide
Once opportunities are made to enable students to showcase the attribute they posses and are developing and that a willingness exists to reward such displays a criteria for recognition needs to be established. With a clear criteria, reflecting the applied aspects of the attribute, the leaner knows what to develop and showcase and the teacher-awarded knows what to award specifically.
To aid recognition and assessment of learner attributes I have developed ‘I Can statements’ as descriptors of the features of each attribute across 4 levels of increasing complexity. For each attribute and within each level of complexity (1-4 or Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) the attribute has been distilled into 3 features and descriptors. I have included a sample of these ‘I Can statements’ below.
Much of the assessment of such learner attributes will be formative and ongoing, involving all members of school community; students in particular. As indicated above staff members will be assessing the presence and application of attributes against I Can descriptors continually, recognising them through awards (stickers are ideal). The exhibited presence of attributes could be assessed quantitatively through a point score accrued if the logging of a sticker had a point value. Such an approach would enable the student to be assessed in terms of how well developed the attribute was in terms of its visible application.
Students could assess attributes through self-reflection activities and through discussion with tutors. This assessment could lead to the recording of qualitative and narrative evidence held within an online portfolio. The quality of each attribute, within which level the application resides and as such the extent to which the student can apply the attribute, could be assessed by the tutor using the evidence base provided within the online portfolio. The tutor could use both the quantitative score and qualitative evidence to assess the development of each attribute and offer guidance accordingly to help students to make the needed improvements as part of the ongoing formative assessment and feedback.
Attribute I Can statements (a sample)
Attribute 1: Collaboration
Students with this attribute are generous, interdependent, helpful and effective communicators. They actively work as part of a team enabling all to learn because of the group’s activities.
|I am beginning to…
Attribute 2: Positivity
Students with this attribute are proactive, enthusiastic, friendly and have high levels of self-esteem even when faced with challenging situations. They always look for the positive in every situation.
I am beginning to…
- display my use of some aspects of positivity (proactivity, enthusiasm, friendly, a sunny disposition).
- be seen to do all I can to achieve my goals with a smile on my face.
- be seen to always have something positive to say about my own and others’ work.
- display all aspects of positivity about self and others (respect, proactivity, enthusiasm, friendly, confident).
- be seen to apply a positive attitude to all of what I do resulting in high levels of progress within my directed and self-directed studies.
- recognise how my positivity can help others and how their positivity can help me to be successful.
- be seen to use my positivity to successfully encourage a range of other people, especially my Learning Set, to achieve their goals.
- use this attribute alongside others to resolve academic, non academic and social problems; for example positivity and creativity.
- apply the features of positivity in a range of situations across the school day.
- coach and mentor others in how to develop and apply this attribute effectively.
- combine this attribute with others to resolve challenging academic, non academic and social problems; for example positive leadership.
- apply this attribute to resolve challenging academic, non academic and social problems in a wide range of contexts; in and outside of the school.
Feel free to contact me if you are interested in how this works in practice or you would like to see all I Can statements for all 7 attributes.